Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #113: Claudia Makes Up Her Mind

Claudia loves being back in seventh grade. She is queen of the seventh grade, has some great friends and a cute boyfriend. SMS is about to launch its annual Color War, something that’s never been mentioned before or since. They divide everyone up according to class. Each class picks its own color and Claudia freaks out because her class picks orange and she hates it. She does signup as the head of her class and makes her boyfriend Mark volunteer too.

Mrs. Ames the guidance counselor calls her into the office to announce that she’s ready to go back to the eighth grade. She decides to let Claudia make the final decision. All of her seventh grade friends want her to stay, while her eighth grade friends and family want her to go back to the eighth grade. Claudia keeps freaking out because she doesn’t know what she should do.

Then she starts having problems with her boyfriend because Mark is never around. All of her friends go with her to meet the guidance counselor, but he goes off with a friend that’s moving away. He keeps using his friend as an excuse why he can’t be around Claudia. He skips meetings for the Color War and then skips a date to do something with his dad.

She starts spending a lot of time with her friend Josh. Everyone starts acting weird and one of her friends finally tells her that he has a crush on her. Claudia doesn’t believe it, but then she notices that he acts kind of weird around her. They get paired up in the three-legged race and when she accidentally falls on him, she realizes that she kind of likes him too.

After that, Josh acts even weirder and starts ignoring her. She decides to talk to Mark and tells him that she doesn’t think things are working. He admits that things aren’t as good as they were in the beginning. He asks if there’s another guy and she tells him that she doesn’t know. They decide to breakup, but he asks her to keep sending him homeroom notes as a friend.

Alan Gray keeps bugging Claudia throughout the Color War. Josh steals his sneakers so Alan can’t win the big race event. They talk, Josh acts awkward, he admits that he likes her and starts to run away. She stops him, admits that she likes him too and they decide to start dating. Claudia goes to the guidance counselor and tells her that she decided to go back to the eighth grade. And then the seventh grade wins the war.

We also have a B-plot where the kids in town decide to host their own Color War. They plan everything for a day when they have sitters and spring it on the BSC. They didn’t pick colors and everyone fights during the events. Abby’s mom donates books for the winners and the charities that they pick. The BSC arranges it so that it’s a three way tie between the teams.

*Claudia keeps saying that the other kids respect her because she’s a year older. I was a 12-year-old seventh grader and had a summer birthday, so most of my classmates were a year older. In my school, I think there were only a few kids that weren’t 13 in 7th grade.

*Why the hell would they send her back a grade and then back up again in a few months? When she got sent back, they made it clear that she had NO grasp of the fundamentals. Even if she got a few good scores on tests and papers, it doesn’t mean she’s ready for eighth grade again.

*Kristy gets pissed at Alan and shoves a drawing over his head LOL

*Some of the Color War contests are just odd. They do a speed drawing contest where three kids draw a portrait of one kid. Of course Claudia wins. Then again, her biggest competition is Alan.

*We only get one Claudia outfit: plaid skirt, lace-up boots, purple leggings, button-up man’s shirt, black tie and oversized man’s vest.

*She also wears an orange bowling shirt on the first day of the Color War.

*I’m not sure I understand how the Color War works. Supposedly, they take one period every day for an event. But then Claudia explains that they did multiple events on the first day.

*Jessi wins the bake-off with a chocolate mousse cake. Hmm, I wonder why Claudia and Mary Anne didn’t add her to their team during the big bake-off contest in the Mystery book?

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #97: Claudia and the World’s Cutest Baby

Peaches is about to have her baby and when the book opens, the Kishi family gets a sonogram photo of the new baby. Claudia is especially thrilled and keeps making tons of gifts for the baby and secretly hoping that they name her Mimi. She and the other girls even start calling the baby little Mimi. When Russ calls to tell them that she went into labor, Claudia freaks out.

She waits outside, jumps on her dad and makes everyone drive right to the hospital. Of course Peaches is nowhere close to giving birth. Jeanine asks if Russ asked them specifically to rush over and she admits that he didn’t. They end up sitting at the hospital for hours, until the doctors finally induce. Peaches and Russ have a little girl that same night.

The next day, they get the chance to see the baby for the first time and Claudia is over the moon. She’s even happier when they ask her to be the baby’s godmother. She’s a little worried that her sister will be upset, but Jeanine thinks they made the right choice.

From the moment baby Lynn comes home, Claudia goes overboard. She stays even after her family leaves, just to help out. She’s constantly cooking, cleaning and giving advice on child care. Peaches makes a few comments and even her own mom says she’s spending too much time over there. Peaches finally snaps one night and goes off on Claudia. Claudia runs home in tears, feeling like crap.

Her social studies class is planning a trip to Philadelphia with Stacey and Abby’s class. Melissa, a girl that sits near her, suddenly decides that she wants to be Claudia’s best friend. She’s hanging around all the time and expects them to share a hotel room, but she bunks with Stacey and Abby instead. Melissa keeps popping up and wanting to spend time with them, but they don’t seem to like her very much.

Claudia is hoping that they have time to see the Rodin museum, but settles for a different art museum. Melissa suggests that they sneak out and visit the other museum. She claims that they can spend 20 minutes at the Rodin museum and still make it back in time to catch the bus. Claudia agrees, but they spend too much time there, miss the bus and get lost.

Eventually they catch up with the others, but their teacher is pissed off. So are the other students because they had to sit on the bus for an hour, waiting for them. Claudia flips out on Melissa, blaming her for everything and calling her a pest. She realizes that what Melissa did was no different than what she did to Peaches. She calls her when she gets home, apologizes and promises to not overstay her welcome anymore.

*This book completely blew my mind! I can’t even begin to explain what a pain in the ass Claudia was! It’s one thing to love your new cousin, but it’s another thing to completely take things over, which is what she does. Claudia is literally telling her how to put the baby to sleep and rock her.

*The first time she visits, she takes the baby upstairs and changes her diaper. Are you kidding me? That is incredibly rude.

*Why doesn’t anyone say anything to her, especially her mom? She keeps saying that new parents need time with babies, but doesn’t come right out and tell her to stay home.

*Claudia almost breaks down in school because she’s missing the early first day bonding with the baby. Yeah, when my niece was born I saw her at the hospital and then didn’t see her for a few days. And I was the same age as Claudia.

*She comes across as really smug too, like making a black and white mobile because SHE KNOWS that it helps a baby focus. Really Claudia, did you learn that in remedial math class?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Goosebumps #60: Werewolf Skin

Alex Hunter is heading off to the small town of Wolf Creek for a few weeks. He loves photography, so he is staying with his Uncle Colin and Aunt Greta who work as professional photographers. They warn him about the creek and act kind of funny around him. Plus, he notices that they look a lot older than they did the last time he saw them.

Their house looks nice, but the house next door has an overgrown lawn and looks abandoned. They warn him to stay away from that house because the Marlings’ don’t like people. He meets a neighborhood girl Hanna, who takes him to school and tells him about the people in town. They go on a walk in the woods, but she makes him leave before dark. They run into classmates Arjun and Sean who make cryptic comments about werewolves.

Alex hears weird noises that night coming from the house next door and looks for his camera. Realizing he left it in the woods, he runs outside to grab it. Coming back, he wanders into the Marlings’ yard and noses around. The next day, he gets a warning. The couple saw him and called his family. They also threatened to call the police if he did it again.

In his first class, the teacher devotes the period to werewolf lore because Halloween is coming up. According to the teacher, werewolves are human people and during a full moon, they put their wolf pelt on and go outside, where it merges onto their skin. Arjun and Sean tell him to meet them outside that night and they will show him proof that werewolves exist.

Alex tries sneaking outside, but finds his door locked and metal bars installed on his windows. His aunt tells him the next day that they did it for his own protection because of the other house. Hanna tells him that the couple are werewolves and all the kids in town known it. He tells his uncle, who says that the family has two dogs that make a lot of noise at night.

Alex keeps hearing the noises coming from the house. He sneaks over one day and sees wolf pelts sitting in the closet. He tells Hanna and she agrees to help him sneak the pelts out. Then he hears weird noises and sees werewolves emerging from the house. He follows them all night, but the next morning he is shocked when they transform into Greta and Colin.

On Halloween night, the two kids steal the wolf pelts and wander around town wearing them. His aunt and uncle start chasing them and they run into the woods. The moon comes out and the two start screaming in pain. They suddenly stop and stand upright. They rush over and thank the kids for freeing them from the curse. Apparently the only thing they had to do was get through one full moon without changing and yet never thought of doing it before.

Alex and Hanna head home, where they put the pelts back in the house. It turns out that no one lived there in a long time, so his aunt and uncle used fictional occupants to explain the werewolves. He goes inside and sees one pelt there. He turns to Hanna, who reveals that she is a werewolf and used her own pelt that night. Then she attacks and the book ends with him screaming. Too bad that the whole time she wore the pelt, she never transformed into a werewolf so the book really makes no sense.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Goosebumps #2: Stay out of the Basement

Margret and Casey are left alone with their dad, when their mom has to rush out of town to take care of a family member. Their dad is a biologist that was recently fired because of his work. One of their friends says she heard he was fired because one of his experiments killed someone, but they just tell her to shut up.

One day they sneak down to the basement where he’s been working and he freaks out. He warns them not to step foot in the basement. They sneak back downstairs and see a bunch of weird plants, including one that almost seems like it’s breathing. Margret is completely freaked out, but Casey thinks it’s kind of funny.

Before long, they start noticing that their dad is acting weird. One day he starts wearing a baseball hat and when it slips off, they see leaves growing out of his head. He promises that it’s a temporary thing and will clear up later. Then Margret sees him chowing down on a big bag of something, even though he never eats in front of him. Later she finds that it was a bag of plant food. The kicker is when she sees him cut himself and green blood pours out.

She tries telling her mom, but she’s too busy to really listen. Then his former boss Mr. Martinez comes by the house and disappears. Their dad says he left, but they find his tie in the basement. He says he got hot and took it off, but then they find some of his other clothes. When he goes to pick up their mom from the airport, they sneak back into the basement.

They keep hearing banging sounds coming from the closet and when they open it, they find a bunch of plants with human features. One plant has a green leg and another has arms. Casey starts closing the door, but she spots a human leg in the background. They find their dad tied up and gagged. When she removes the gag, he points out Mr. Martinez further back.

They drag them both out and hear a noise upstairs. It’s their dad, back with their mom. Both men swear that they are their real dad, but Margret doesn’t know what to do. The one with their mom is wearing a baseball hat, but they look identical. Capless dad calls her princess, but she isn’t sure if he really is her dad. She finally stabs the one in the hat and he bleeds green blood. Her real dad chops him with an axe and he breaks into plant parts.

Their dad explains that he was trying to create a super plant by mixing human DNA into the plants. He accidentally cut himself and plant DNA got inside him, creating the leaves on his head. Martinez is so impressed that he gives him his job back and they clean out the basement. Dad saves a few plants, but most are burned and killed. A few days later Margret is walking in the backyard and feels a flower brushing her leg. When she looks down, the plant whispers that it’s her real dad…

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Friends Forever #2: Stacey vs. Claudia

I always liked Stacey when I was a kid, but after this book I’m trying to figure out why! Stacey is still dating Ethan, but she’s ticked because he is always busy. He has a part-time job and can’t spend as much time with her as he did before. He signs up for a Sunday class because none of the other sessions were open, which means she can’t see him then either. He makes plans to come down and see her the following weekend.

The next day, she sees the new guy at school. Mary Anne admits that he’s cute, and they talk about how noticing a guy doesn’t mean they don’t love their boyfriends any less. Claudia also notices him and thinks he is really cute. Stacey and Claudia meet him at lunch. His name is Jeremy and he seems nice (I guess). He sits with the BSC at lunch and they learn more about him.

Claudia announces that she has a crush on him and Stacey agrees to find out if he likes her too. Of course, after one conversation with him Stacey decides that she likes him too. She doesn’t tell Claudia though because she doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. Ethan calls to tell her that he has to cover for a guy at work and can’t make it down for the weekend. Stacey gets pissed at him, they fight and she hangs up on him.

Stacey decides that she is now single and free to date whoever she wants. She sets up a “date” at the mall with her, Claudia and Jeremy, but pretends that she’s sick so Claudia has him to herself. She calls her the next day and Claudia says they went to the movies and had fun. Stacey pouts because she was sure that he liked her. She mopes around the house for awhile and suddenly Jeremy shows up. He confesses that he had fun with Claudia, but he really wants to date Stacey.

Stacey also meets the new girl Rachel. She lived in Stoneybrook before and everyone hated her because she was a stuck up brat and a bully. She just moved back from London and has no friends because of how she treats people. So naturally they become good friends. Rachel basically tells her to go after Jeremy if she really likes him.

Stacey writes out a speech to give Claudia. She discovers that Claudia made a sculpture of Jeremy, but decides that she must like him more. Claudia naturally freaks out and accuses Stacey of stealing her boyfriend. They call each other some names and the fight blows up. The BSC members get involved, with Kristy telling them that she can’t believe they would let a guy come between them.

Jeremy and Stacey hang out once and she thinks it went great. She sees him talking with Claudia the next day and then he starts ignoring her. Jeremy finally confesses that Claudia told him about Ethan. He thinks Stacey is just using him and that she’ll get back together with him. She admits that they never officially broke up, but she like totally likes Jeremy. He just walks away.

They fight yet again because of what Claudia did. Claudia basically stops talking to her because she feels like she can’t trust her. Stacey tells Claudia that Jeremy won’t date her ever, no matter what she does. Claudia literally bursts into tears and Stacey just storms off because how dare her best friend try to ruin her relationship with a guy she just met!

Stacey goes to Jeremy and tells him that while Ethan doesn’t know it, their relationship is over. Jeremy admits that he wants to date her and they make plans to go out that weekend. The doorbell rings and Stacey is shocked to find Ethan waiting for her. He brings her flowers, apologizes for their fight and asks why she never returned any of his dozens of phone calls. Stacey pretty much dumps him and he cries. Ethan leaves to pick up the next train back to NYC and Jeremy shows up. Stacey stops to think that things are changing, but she is sure they are changing for the better.

*Stacey goes off about Claudia’s spelling and I agree with her to a point. I stop agreeing with her when she claims that other people think she is stupid because her best friend isn’t a good speller.

*Claudia does the best thing ever in this book! She tells Stacey that just because she’s from NYC she isn’t special and that millions of other people live there.

*Stacey tells her mom about the situation and her mom just tells her that it’s a rough decision. Is Maureen blind? Does she not realize that her 13 year old daughter should not be dating multiple guys at once or falling in love every other week? Why do I see Stacey as a teen mom?

*I was the Claudia in a very similar situation and it completely ruined our friendship. I liked a guy, my best friend knew it and she went after him for herself. We barely talked after that.

*Stacey admits multiple times that she and Ethan never broke up, but decides that he will probably figure it out on his own. Jeremy knows that she is still technically with him, but it apparently doesn’t bother him.

*Rachel tells her that they aren’t stuck up, but that they are different because they are “city girls.” That sounds completely stuck up to me.

*Why do either of them want Jeremy? He goes out with Claudia and has fun, but then decides that he just wants to be her friend. He comes across as really spoiled and immature, but Stacey keeps saying that he is sensitive and romantic.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Goosebumps Series 2000 #21: The Haunted Car

Mitchell, his little brother Todd and their parents moved to a new rundown house. His dad is constantly working around the house and they don’t have a lot of money. Mitchell hates their car and asks his dad if they can get a new one. His dad refuses, until the brakes go out and they almost die. Mitchell finds an ad in the newspaper with a like-new car that you name your price on and he convinces his dad to go.

The car looks great and when they take it for a test drive, it runs great. His dad claims that they will not buy the car, but the seller offers it to them for $5,000 if they drive it away that day. They take the car home and everyone loves it. Mitchell begs his dad to take him for a ride, but he refuses. That night he sneaks downstairs and climbs inside the car. The doors lock behind him and he can’t get out. He struggles, but can’t find the door locks. Luckily a girl opens the door and lets him out. Her name is Marissa and she just moved into a house down the street.

Mitchell decides not to tell anyone what happened. Some neighborhood boys come over and he shows them the car. They climb inside, the doors lock and the air conditioning comes on. They manage to get out, but he becomes convinced that the car is haunted. Of course, no one believes him, except Todd who believes that their house is haunted.

Todd thinks the ghost is Marissa because she always appears when things go wrong. To prove his brother wrong, he takes him down the street to her house. There they learn that the house is completely empty and no one lives there. He goes to the house of the seller and sees a picture of Marissa with “In Loving Memory” over it and runs home. His parents refuse to listen to his stories about ghosts and ground him because they discovered him sneaking out to the car.

Mitchell has a few more run-ins with the car. He hears a voice say, “I’m evil” coming from the radio and has the doors lock again. His whole family goes to visit their cousin, leaving him home alone. He sneaks out to the car, the doors lock and it takes off. He sees a girl that looks like Marissa sitting in the car and she claims that she wants to kill him.

The car drives all over town before taking him back home. When they get there, he sees his house on fire and almost burnt to the ground. Mitchell tells the ghost that if she had left him home, he would have burned to death in the fire, so she actually saved his life. The ghost starts screaming and disappears. He runs from the car and has a reunion with his family.

Marissa appears and reveals that she had an identical twin sister Becka. Becka stole the car one night, crashed it and died. Her father never got over it and sold the car as soon as he could. He tells her what happened and she says that she followed him to warn him, but is happy that it’s all over.

The next day his dad calls a mechanic because he can’t get the car started. The mechanic takes one look under the hood and thinks they are joking because the car has no battery. Mitchell’s dad scratches his head and wonders how they ever drove it around town without a battery…